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The link between Alzheimer’s and inflammation

Larry King NowMar 02 '18

Dr. Gary Small says there has been too much focus paid to build-up of amyloid proteins in the fight to treat Alzheimer’s, and that attention is rightly being shifted to the impact inflammation has on the disease.

Larry King: I wanna ask a question about Alzheimer's. You say you're optimistic. It doesn't feel that way in the world. When you talk to doctors, a lotta them will say, "Slow going."

Dr. Gary Small: Well, it's been a long haul. There's been a bit too much focus on one problem in the brain, the buildup of these amyloid proteins. I think the drug companies and the scientists are realizing we have to move on to other approaches. I am someone who believes that heightened inflammation in the brain is a big problem. And in fact, a lotta the strategies that seem to lower your risk for Alzheimer's, like physical exercise, a good diet, getting enough sleep, these are all antiinflammatory strategies. So, I think we've got a lotta smart people looking at it. We're infusing more money into the area. Part of the problem, I believe, is that Alzheimer's is an age-related illness and we have a lot of ageism in our society and it's taken us a while to catch up.

Larry King: The drugs that slow it down, if they can slow it down, why can't they slow it down more?

Dr. Gary Small: Well, that's a challenge because you'd have to start the drugs very early in life and you don't wanna put everybody on a drug because you don't know the side effects from all those people taking it. So, I think what's happened though in the field is we've pivoted from treating people who already have dementia or lots of problems to people who are at risk, because we think that it's going to be easier to protect a healthy brain rather than try to repair damage once it's extensive.